Civilian teams are being drafted in to provide year-round support to police in Leeds city centre as the force continues to battle against booze-fuelled trouble.
Dire warnings were made last year as violent crime soared by up to 40 per cent in the most popular party hotspots, with police saying a “saturation” point had been reached.
But councillors heard this week that LeedsBID ‘evening ambassadors’ will soon join police, bar security teams and other agencies in a concerted effort to the turn the tide on the rising number of alcohol-related incidents.
Inspector Andy Berriman, who leads the city centre policing team, said: “I’m really confident they will have a massive impact on reducing violent crime by taking disruptive measures rather than waiting for a fight to start.
“It will also give us more eyes and ears to share information.”
The new recruits – who could be in place before the month is out – will work alongside police and other agencies involved in Operation Capital, which has been hailed a success as Leeds prepares to seek the renewal of its Purple Flag status.
I’m really confident they will have a massive impact on reducing violent crime.Inspector Andy Berriman, Leeds city centre policing team
Carried out every Friday and Saturday night, the operation drafts in officers from across Leeds to focus on the two most problematic areas for alcohol-related trouble – Woodhouse Lane/Albion Street and Lower Briggate/Call Lane.
Leeds City Council’s Licensing Committee this week received an update on the ongoing battle to bring order to streets that were previously said to have reached saturation point.
Inspector Andy Berriman said police resources remained an issue, but it was hoped that a review of shift patterns would address the “ludicrous” reduction in officers at around 1.30am each weekend night.
While that review continues, the ambassadors will provide an immediate boost on weekend nights when around 100,000 people descend on the city’s bars and restaurants.
Insp Berriman said: “To have them every weekend is, I’m pretty sure, going to make a significant impact.”
He told councillors that the city centre was bucking the trend, with a rise in violent crime up between four and six per cent compared to 18 per cent nationally.
Speaking about Operation Capital, Sergeant Dave Shaw added: “It’s genuinely getting positive feedback. It’s showing not only in crime figures but in how people are feeling.”
Operation Capital and the ambassadors were highlighted as examples of the collaboration inspired by Leeds winning Purple Flag status in January, recognising excellence in managing the night-time economy.
Funded by LeedsBID (Business Improvement District) and Business Against Crime in Leeds (BACIL) for the next three years, the ambassadors will work from around 10pm until as late as 5am the next morning.
They will also be a welcome addition as the city submits its application for 2018.
LeedsBID chief executive Andrew Cooper said: “We have to apply for that each year.
“It’s not a given and we mustn’t be complacent.”